Ancient viruses have been discovered in a Chinese glacier.
There is a risk that climate change, due to which the glaciers are melting, could release previously unknown infectious agents into the environment, scientists said.
According to Science Alert, scientists drilled a 50-meter well in a Tibetan glacier and extracted two ice cores. They identified 33 groups of viruses, including 28 unknowns in glaciers, while 18 of them infect bacteria, including Methylobacterium, Sphingomonas and Janthinobacterium.
As scientists said, the results of their work help establish effective methods for sampling microorganisms and viruses in the ice sheet. For the first time, specialists got an idea of the genomes of viruses that lived 520 and 15,000 years ago.
Researchers note that global warming can lead to the loss of microbial and viral information, according to which it is possible to reconstruct the state of climate in ancient times. Viruses that may be in the environment as a result of warming can be dangerous not only for bacteria, but also for animals and humans.